Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mourning


I met Gino in first year high school. He was a transferee from another school, so it was the first time we met each other. We became seatmates, shared a couple of jokes, but were never really friends. I remember him as smart and articulate. He wasn't the best in class, but he was definitely above average.

After that year, we never became classmates again. I saw him once in a while, and worked with him in a school play during senior year, but our relationship never went beyond casual acquaintances. We interacted around the same circles, but our conversations rarely moved above polite small talk.

I was in college when I heard the news. Gino died in a plane crash. The news was shocking to say the least. He was young, definitely, but more than that, it came completely out of nowhere. I made plans to go to the wake with my friends to pay our respects.

The plane crash and its relation to Gino's death is notably depressing in one more aspect. You see, Gino was traveling with his family. And when I say family, I mean the whole clan. They just came back from a family reunion. The plane crash virtually wiped them all out.

When we came to the wake, there were 6 coffins, of varying sizes. I asked my friend Ron where the other dead were being kept. Ron said he didn't know. I saw Ioanis crying in a corner. Another acquaintance, Anthony, bought several garlands of sampaguita. He was carefully, artfully, arranging them on Gino's casket.

The news of the plane crash was certainly huge, and appeared on a lot of local news shows. The fact that one family came from a reunion made it even more tragic, so particular attention was brought to Gino's family even more. His best friend, Louis, told me that there was at least one survivor that he knew: Gino's mom. She wasn't able to attend the reunion because she was sick. She stayed at home while her family flew to Davao.

There was a short mass, and prayers were said over each of the closed caskets. Ioanis was still sobbing, and it was getting louder by the minute, but he was trying to compose himself. Ron's eyes were red, as were mine. There was a lump in my throat. Beyond grieving for a lost friend, we were, or at least I was, grappling with the absurdity of the situation. How could this happen? What does this mean? Why this complete unfair arbitrariness?

A few weeks after the funeral, I met up with Louis, and asked him how he was. He told me he's okay, and that he was making it a point to visit Gino's mom every week to see how she was. He told me that the first time he saw her, she was almost catatonic, but that she's getting better by the week. He was also worried for her. He didn't know, rather, didn't want to think about, what she would do if left to her own devices for too long. He wanted to share in her pain.

He said he missed Gino. But there was nothing he could do. He's moving on, he said.

I have one lasting memory of Gino, which is forever etched in my head. It was Christmas season, and one of his friends handed me a gift. We were seniors then. I opened the package, and found a large statue of an angel, as well as a love letter. I thought it was sweet. It was one of those instances that made me feel, during those difficult years, that I meant something to someone. Even someone I didn't really know. It made me feel glad to be alive.


Photo taken here.

31 comments:

  1. Wow, that's all that comes to mind. Wow.

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  2. sobrang nakakatouch naman to...

    :(

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  3. I lost a family member too on that very same accident a few years back in Davao. :(

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  4. This is so tragic, my heart goes out to the mother, family and friends

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  5. How tragic! thank you for sharing

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  6. Very tragic and an unfortunate reminder that life is so very short.

    http://rantersbox.blogspot.com

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  7. Quit tender and a brilliant tribute to a person who without affecting, touched you!

    Joy always,
    Susan

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  8. How tragic and what a lovely tribute to Gino.

    Your friend is good to visit his mother. She will be getting far worse. I know.

    Life can be so cruel. xoxo

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  9. wow how heartbreaking

    http://becca-mycrazystuff.blogspot.com/

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  10. really sad,but it teaches one a lesson,that often the people present in our lives,become vague and blurred as time passes,it's impossible to stay in touch with everyone,but what you did was very respectful.And I am sorry to hear the news. Bleeding Healer

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  11. When someone that you even remotely knew dies, it makes you think about the value of a life. Really, the value of your own life. It's life altering.

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  12. Wow. That is unbelievably sad. Thank you for sharing it...and I can see how it would make a difference in your own life to see how short life can really be.

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  13. I can't imagine the pain that the surviving relatives faced...

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  14. my condolences..

    heartbreaking. i don't know what to comment, honestly. it's.. i'm sorry..

    God bless you and those who were left behind. my prayers are with you.

    *hugs*

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  15. I'm sorry about that. I know someone who died this year in the Indian plane crash. She was on her way to her cousin's wedding, she was with her family, and she was looking forward to the rain :) I find it comforting that they all died together. That none of them had to experience life in the absence of the other.

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  16. That's heart breaking. I feel for Gino's mum. Lucky she has your friend to help her. I wonder how she finds the strength to open her eyes each morning. I would honestly be suicidal. Absolutely devastating...

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  17. Sad. I'm from Davao and I know four friends who had family in that Air Phil crash. But I don't think I understand a loss of that level...

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  18. I can't even imagine. It's so hard to make sense out of this. Thank you for sharing your way through it.

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  19. This is so sad. This literally depressed me now (not in a bad way, your an amazing blogger!). =( You know too many people who died, it must be terrible for you. I'm so sorry.

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  20. This is so moving. Your writing is amazing. I had a kind of similar experience - I moved to New Zealand from Zimbabwe when I was ten, & shortly afterwards, I found out that the guy I had sat next to in class for the entire year had been killed in a car accident. Thanks for your comment on my blog :)

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  21. grabe, whole clan died. i was thinking about the mother who was left alone.. worst she's carrying that very burden all alone.. :(

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  22. Thanks for sharing.
    It was very touching.

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  23. Hey guys, I just want to thank you all for your comments, and for sharing your stories. I enjoy reading them, and I really appreciate the time you take to tell me how my writing affected you. For those who have lost loved ones in a similar way, I hope I didn't dredge up painful memories. I don't really choose what to write, most of the time the subject chooses me. Anyway, thank you once again.

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  24. It's often the people we didn't know well who move us, so much more when a tragedy like this takes a place. Beautiful tribute and comments filled with genuine empathy.

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  25. tragic! haay....life talaga!

    may i ask which crash this is? pasensya na ha, favorite ko kasi air crash investigation. although i think this may be recent, i'm just dying to know which this is. :)

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  26. @kg: It happened a long time ago, maybe 7 or 8 years? I can't remember the name of the plane. It came from Davao though.

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